Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo

Key Terms

conservative force
force that does work independent of path
conserved quantity
one that cannot be created or destroyed, but may be transformed between different forms of itself
energy conservation
total energy of an isolated system is constant
equilibrium point
position where the assumed conservative, net force on a particle, given by the slope of its potential energy curve, is zero
exact differential
is the total differential of a function and requires the use of partial derivatives if the function involves more than one dimension
mechanical energy
sum of the kinetic and potential energies
non-conservative force
force that does work that depends on path
energy source that is not renewable, but is depleted by human consumption
potential energy
function of position, energy possessed by an object relative to the system considered
potential energy diagram
graph of a particle’s potential energy as a function of position
potential energy difference
negative of the work done acting between two points in space
energy source that is replenished by natural processes, over human time scales
turning point
position where the velocity of a particle, in one-dimensional motion, changes sign
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Jan 19, 2024 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.